I’m Making Money Doing What I Love

Hello everyone and happy Friday (woohoo!).

Through an odd series of connections and events over the last month and a half I have been working as a freelance reporter for a local community newspaper in my area. It has been absolutely wonderful getting to go out and report, write and take pictures to create articles that are being shared and read by many other people. To be honest, it’s a crazy feeling. 

It all fell into place at exactly the right time. While I am very fortunate and genuinely enjoying this experience, I’m still definitely getting used to the idea of freelancing as a means of actually making money. It also has been a wild ride getting back into the swing of reporting and writing after taking a hiatus between graduation and this gig. I’m figuring it all out slowly,  but for now I just have to see this as a side thing.

But, for a girl who dreamed her whole life to get paid for her writing, this has been a very uplifting and positive moment for me… especially when I saw my first check.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been really focused on the gun reform issue right now in America. I had a chance to speak with a few of the AMAZING high school students and a college student involved in planning March For Our Lives Chicago. I covered a local high school walkout on Wednesday, continually impressed and inspired by these young people.

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One of the signs held by a supporter at the high school walkout I attended.

It’s safe to say I’ve been having a pretty good time. I’m doing what I love, the thing I went to school for. I’m happy!

 

I hope that you all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for reading and encouraging me to keep pursuing my dreams. This is such a fantastic community online and I’m lucky to be a part of it.

Until next time,

Emily


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The Reality of College Graduation and Life After

This is not a post to sh*t on going to college, getting an education, etc. I loved college (2 out of 3 that I went to) and had some of my absolute best times (and some scary times, I’m looking at you Chicago 7-Eleven robbery), learned a lot and became a much better journalist than I could have ever imagined.

But, this has not been an easy transition from the glamour of college graduation, with it’s brilliant, big speeches about how we are going to be the best people in the entire world once we walk off that stage, to the real world: the reality of applying to jobs, getting interviews and, most of all, getting rejected. For those of you who have been there, you know how that hurts.

I am not trying to scare any of you, I am still extremely hopeful that I will land a position sometime soon. I think it’s all about your attitude. I have been very positive each time I have sent out an application, and more times than not I get a phone call, an interview. It’s just important to realize that these jobs might not happen RIGHT AWAY for some people, and I think colleges kind of do a bad job in providing false hope that when you graduate you will already be in your career.

I went to school for Journalism and from the beginning I heard how hard it would be after (I can hear all of you going “well, duh”), but I could not go for anything else. I have loved reporting and writing since I was a little girl and I had to follow my passion. But, I realize that passion does require major sacrifice (aka being poor for a while). For those of you out there who chose an artistic/unconventional major, you can probably understand this struggle between knowing it might be hard, but wanting more than anything to do what you love.

I can’t lie, there has been this overwhelming stress and depression surrounding the search for a job. That’s my experience, you may feel differently. I wake up in the morning shocked that I haven’t landed a position yet and it’s already almost 8 months after graduation, and it’s both discouraging and motivating at the same time. It’s a hard period for post-grads, in the wake of loan repayments hovering and a hope to be independent and out of our parents house, that I feel doesn’t get talked about enough.

I am here for anyone out there that is going through this transition period. You most certainly are not alone, we can create a little community in the comments and chat all about this if you’d like. I just wanted to keep it real with you all, because I think sometimes bloggers can be made out to be these overly happy, organized people with absolutely perfect lives.


Here is my best advice if you are still in high school/searching for a college:

-Do your research on how much you can afford or what your loan repayments will be after you get out of school.

-Pick an in-state school unless they are giving you absolutely great scholarships to go out-of-state.

-Know what your projected major will pay when you graduate (a general estimation).

For those who are about to graduate:

-Prep your resume early. Have a few professors you like help you with it or give some advice, or some knowledgable friends. Start sending it out about 6 months prior to graduation.

-Take internships that you will enjoy and will complement your major/minor (even if they are right after graduation). Try your absolute best to get paid for your internship, you deserve that.

-Don’t feel bad about moving back home or struggling for a little bit after you graduate. Don’t feel bad about taking a retail/food service job to pay your bills while searching for something you really want to be doing. It will get better.

For those who have already graduated:

-Indeed has been a great resource for me (they seem to have the best job postings). Send out those resumes like crazy and you will likely get at least a few responses.

-As stated in the last section, it’s okay to work in retail/food service in the meantime. It’s also okay to take a job that maybe wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for. Just because you take a job doesn’t mean that you have to be there forever (this is an idea I struggled with until recently).

-It will get better because it has to. Stay positive because it is so easy to fall into a dark place and it’s not so easy to crawl out of it.


 

Thank you to my lovely followers and those that are new for taking the time to read,

Emily

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My Kombucha Guide

I am not afraid to try anything when it comes to food, especially when said food has some pretty great health benefits. Kombucha, for those who don’t know, is a fermented tea drink. You may have seen it while browsing the grocery store and wondered about it, like “what the hell is this shit”, which is pretty much how my first experience with kombucha went.

I first tried it a few years ago when I was shopping at Whole Foods and decided to try a GT’s Trilogy Kombucha and to be honest I absolutely hated it at first try. I thought it tasted like bitter, sweet, carbonated vinegar, but for some reason after that first experience I kept coming back to it. Something about that strange combination intrigued me so much that I fell in love with the flavor. Be ready for your friends and family to judge (make fun of) your choice of drink if you become a regular drinker of kombucha (or is that just my crowd).

Be skeptical as you may, but kombucha does have quite a few positive health claims surrounding it. If you’re vegan, lactose intolerant or just looking to cut out dairy for a while, ‘bucha comes complete with probiotics which save you from a scoop of yogurt. There are plenty of other claims about it being heart healthy, having antioxidant properties, etc.

Kombucha is made during a fairly drawn out fermentation process, but it’s totally possible to make it at home. I haven’t yet tried, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done my research. The first step is finding yourself a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Yeast and Bacteria), sounds delicious, right? They aren’t all that hard to find. I am on a member of a Facebook group with over 21,000 members who are all brewers or enjoyers of kombucha. If you can befriend a few people on this site, there is a good chance someone who lives near you may have an extra SCOBY to share. For the rest of the fermentation process, Wellness Mama did a great job breaking it all down for you if you’re interested in making your own. Just be sure to be safe, clean and smart while attempting home brewing.

But, if you just want to stick to the store-bought variety, which is totally A-OK, there are some fantastic options. Something to note is that not all kombucha’s are the same, you may hate one and absolutely love another (been there). Also, beware of sugar… some of them pack A LOT in that bottle.

Below are some short reviews of the kombucha’s I have gotten to know over the last few years. Prices will not be included since they vary depending on store and location, but generally they are between $3.50-$5.00. They are a bit pricey, but hey, so are all of your Starbucks drinks and I don’t see you stopping that habit anytime soon.

*I put the flavor that I have specifically tried or been a fan of in parenthesis*

GT’s Kombucha (Trilogy)

This is basically THE kombucha. You will find this brand probably the most widely available in stores. For a while, I only drank GT’s and I have nothing against it other than the fact that it is certainly one of the more “vinegary” tasting varieties. You can’t go wrong with it, but in my opinion there are better ones out there.

Flavor Profile: Raspberry, lemon and ginger.

Health-Ade Kombucha (Pink Lady Apple)

This brand is widely available, much like GT’s. I have seen this brand pop up at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Based on my experience, this is my least favorite brand of kombucha. It has an incredibly vinegary/bitter taste that I just could not get past. It is the only one I have ever purchased that I disliked so much I could not finish it. However, I have friends who really, really enjoy this one and continually repurchase.

Flavor Profile: Apple

Brew Dr. Kombucha (Love)

Alright, get ready for me to fangirl over this one. This is my favorite brand of kombucha EVER, and I think for good reason. This brand is out of Portland, OR and I think what makes them so special is their lack of bitterness and that vinegary taste. They brew (at least the Love flavor) with green tea instead of the traditional black tea used in brewing and I think this really helps with that harsh taste. This is about a dollar cheaper than GT’s and completely worth every penny.

Flavor Profile: Lavender, chamomile and rose.

Kombucha Town (Blueberry White)

I found this brand while in Bellingham, WA and honestly I loved it. I had the chance to go to their Culture Cafe where their kombucha’s were fresh on tap. It’s a great kombucha with a lot of carbonation which is great when you’re wanting something like a pop. I do not think this is available nationally (I could be wrong), but it was in grocery stores throughout the Seattle area. If you have the opportunity, give this one a try… it was so good.

Flavor Profile: Blueberry


 

I hope you get the chance to try some kombucha, it really is such a special, bubbly drink that always lifts my mood. If you become a super fan like me, follow my twitter account @kombuchafanclub 

Did your favorite not make my list? Let me know which ones you are in love with in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading,

Emily

Natural Products I’ve Been Loving

Winter is here again. The time that my skin decides to wreak absolute havoc and I am forced to stay indoors thanks to the chilly, snowy Chicagoland weather. Any other Midwesterners out there understand the pain right along with me?

I have to admit I have a horrible tendency to let my skin dry very badly, which isn’t the best idea for someone who has eczema, but to be honest it’s always the last thing on my mind. I finally started using many more natural, cruelty-free products to take care of my skin and my body, so I  figured that I would tell you guys about a few of my favorites.

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I recently purchased the Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream with Clary Sage and wow.. it has helped my face tremendously so far. Before I was using this my skin was actually cracking from lack of moisture. The packaging claims this product is 99% natural and not tested on animals, so it’s some good stuff. It does have a fragrance, which I would describe as kind of “earthy”. I personally like the smell, but I would say try to sniff it if you can before you buy. The price point isn’t bad either at only $7.59 on Amazon.

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Sticking with Burt’s Bees, this is not sponsored at all…I’m just a fan, I have also been using their Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter. This is a 100% natural product and it has done wonders for my lips. If you have dry lips, try this out because you will be so relieved.

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Over the last year or so, I’ve been really wanting to get away from “normal” deodorants that contain aluminum and I finally found one that I really love to use. The Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deoderant (wild lavender scent) has been my go-to. I will say that if you are prone to sweating, are going to an event or stressful situation or just want more assurance that you won’t sweat through your clothes, this product probably isn’t one you want to use. It does not contain anti-persperant, so it’s just going to act as odor protection. I love the lavender scent, but if lavender isn’t for you, they have several other options to choose from.

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Tom’s is one of my absolute favorite natural, sustainable and cruelty-free brands. I have been also using their toothpaste for the last 6 months or so and love it. It doesn’t have any of the sweeteners that most toothpaste brands contain, and they have a variety free of fluoride if you’re looking for that. I use the one containing fluoride. If you are looking for a better alternative to your current toothpaste I think this one is a great one to try.

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Shea Moisture has the BEST conditioner that I have ever used, and that I’m convinced I ever WILL use, and it just so happens to be cruelty-free, organic, natural, fair-trade and family owned. It’s called the Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and I could not recommend this enough, if you have to try one thing on this list this should win 100x over.

I am looking for more recommendations, specifically for body lotion, makeup products, etc. so let me know in the comments what you love.

Thank you so much for reading, as always,

Emily

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Super easy + healthy breakfast recipes

I will firmly admit that I don’t eat breakfast every single day, but when I do, I really enjoy it. I find that breakfast is the perfect opportunity to eat both dairy-free and vegan, which I do not follow throughout the rest of the day (I’ve tried, it’s not for me, I’M SORRY VEGANS… I RESPECT YOU).

I had my fair share of yogurt parfaits and avocado toast with egg over the past few years, and while those foods are delicious and filling, I find that I tend to enjoy lighter, easier meals in the morning.

These two (super easy, I’m not claiming to be an innovator here) recipes are what I’ve been mainly eating over the past few months.

  1. Berry Banana Smoothie

This could not be simpler. All you need:

  • Frozen berry medley (I get mine from Whole Foods frozen fruit section)
  • 1 or 1 1/2 bananas (depending on your preference)
  • Coconut water
  • Optional additions: baby spinach, chia seeds

Blend all of these wonderful ingredients together and you have an easy, amazing smoothie. I’m seriously obsessed with this and I drink it in the dead of winter in Chicago, I don’t care! I sometimes sprinkle it with some granola, but that’s just if I’m feeling like I need a little more to fill me up.

2. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream

What you’ll need:

  • Whole grain oats, make sure the only ingredient listed is OATS. (I use instant, but I hear those aren’t the best for you. If you want to take the longer, healthier route, go ahead.)
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (obsessed with Califia Farms brand)
  • Real maple syrup
  • Real peanut butter

Follow the instructions for making the oatmeal, but use the almond milk instead of dairy milk or water. Then stir in about a tablespoon and a half of peanut butter (two if you’re feeling it) and pour in about a tablespoon of maple syrup. This has been the most filling and amazingly delicious breakfast. It would also be great if you add sliced banana and cinnamon to the top.

These have been my go-to’s and I think for good reason.

Let me know if you guys give either of these a try and let me know if you have any good breakfast recipes for me to try in the comments. I’m always looking for new food.

Thanks for reading,

Emily

My Ultimate Travel Wishlist

Nothing like the first day of September to remind you that the warmer days will soon be behind us. I am a huge fan of fall, but I can’t help my mind from constantly thinking where I could be instead as the temperatures begin to drop.

For the last three years, my boyfriend and I have gone on one wonderful trip each year, which we always started planning in late fall. It has become our little tradition to go on one “big” trip a year, and with immense saving (i.e. barely spending money on anything else) we were able to pull it off.

But, now that I’ve graduated from college and I don’t have as much holding me back from doing things like short weekend trips, I can hopefully make room for a few more in my budget and schedule in the next few years.

I am very lucky to be going to Phoenix, Arizona in Mid-October with a couple of my best friends to go to the Lost Lake musical festival. I’ve never been in the southwest, so any recommendations on food, things to do, etc. are greatly appreciated.

But, without further ado, here are a few destinations I’d love to visit in 2018/2019 (I realize there are a lot of National Parks, but that’s just what I like):

  • The Hawaiian Islands
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Hawaiian beach. Photo credit: Travel Channel

This one is a serious contender for my big trip for summer 2018. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, but the price of airfare always pushed me away from going. It is still pretty dang expensive, but with enough planning I think anything is possible. I do worry about just how touristy the beaches are, but it still is so gorgeous that I can’t see that ruining my trip, even if it is.

  • Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
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Banff National Park. Photo credit: Travel Channel.

Banff has definitely gained some popularity in the last few years with bloggers and YouTubers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this place is insanely beautiful (at least in photos). The only part of Canada I ever got the pleasure to see was Niagara Falls, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s time to explore something else.

  • Boston, Massachusetts 
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Beautiful Boston, MA. Photo credit: Thrillist.

In 2016, I took a road trip to Bar Harbor, Maine from where I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and we got so close to Boston, but didn’t go. I still wish we did, so of course it had to make my list. I mean, who doesn’t want to do a dramatic reenactment of the Boston Tea Party?

  • Los Angeles, California
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Overlooking Los Angeles. Photo credit: AARP 

A few friends of mine who have been to LA swear by it, but I have always been slightly wary because food and things to do there seem so expensive. The good thing is that flying into LAX is usually fairly cheap from Chicago, so to make this one a decent weekend trip is probably completely doable.

  • Southern Italy + Croatia
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Naples, Italy. Photo credit: LT Travel Connection

This would be a big trip. The furthest from the United States I’ve ever been in the Dominican Republic, and honestly, I’m not great with flying. So, being in an airplane for over five hours kind of gives me the creeps, but I would stand it to be in a beautiful location like Southern Italy and the lovely coast of Croatia.

  • Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier Nat’l Park. Photo credit: Roadtrippers

During my trip a few months ago, our Amtrak route took us right through Glacier National Park and I was absolutely struck with its beauty. It’s tough to look out at something, want to get out and explore it by foot, but you’re stuck on a train that has no plans to stop anytime soon. I will definitely be going back here for a real trip, hopefully soon.

  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Random woman overlooking Yellowstone. Photo credit: Travel Wyoming

Yellowstone in the United States first national park, which is already reason enough for me to go. I have seen so many gorgeous photos of trips to Yellowstone that I am basically drooling at this point and need to go. To see one of those geysers in person would really be something.


 

Those are just a few places that I would really like to see in the next two years. It may seem a little bit crazy, and it probably is, but a girl can dream. It’s important to know that travel is also one of my top life priorities, so while some people go out and drink every weekend, I save that money and use it towards my travel fund.

I am excited to see where these feet take me over the next couple of years. If I have any advice, it’s to get out and see your country, wherever you may live. For years, the majority of travel I did was either extremely touristy within the U.S., or I went to all-inclusive vacation spots, so I never fully got to experience the beauty that we have within this country.

What places are you wishing to go to over the next few years?

Thanks for reading and happy unofficial fall,

Emily.

A day at the farmers market

Did someone say fresh local honey?

This weekend I ventured over to a little town called Wheaton, IL to check out their Saturday French Market. I’m a sucker for the words “fresh”, “local”, “natural”, “non-GMO”, “better than the grocery store produce section”, and I was not let down with the beautiful choices of fruits, vegetables, honey and even homemade cheese.

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Fellow market browsers checking out the local bargains.

There is something so special about knowing exactly where your food came from, and the people who run these stands are proud of their products. I was intrigued by one stand that had a giant British flag hanging off the back of it, and it turns out that there were some very British men selling sausages. Of course, I had to hear their accents so I asked them a few questions. They were a little insulted when I said that I don’t eat sausage, but they got over it.

The produce was gorgeous. I saw a poppin’ red pepper that looked like I could see my reflection in it. There was a head of romaine lettuce that looked out of this world. Don’t even get me started on the wonderful assortment of berries.

Aside from all the delicious food, including some donuts and crepes, there were beautiful fresh flower bouquets for a bargain price, handmade soaps and a super adorable home decor shop.

Not only are you getting a better product when visiting your local farmer’s market, but you are supporting a local small business which is oh-so-important to me. While the hot summer days are almost behind us, maybe it’s time you check out your own local market this weekend and pick up some great stuff to add to your meals.

I ended up leaving with some homemade, fantastic cheddar cheese, a whole bunch of fresh blackberries and a big jar of honey.

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Have a great Monday everybody and keep eating local.

-Emily